Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper has insisted that there is “no chance” of the promoted Geordies selling Fraser Forster to City or anyone else.
The on-loan shot-stopper, who is currently suspended for seeing red at Tranmere on Good Friday, has been in outstanding form since arriving in Norfolk in September, but with his loan up at the end of the season, the Canaries face a fight to keep him.
He has already been linked with Premier League sides Stoke City, Arsenal and Tottenham and the 6ft 6in ‘keeper is clearly admired at his hometown club as well.
The only realistic hope of him returning to Norwich would be in the shape of another loan – the Toon will not be cashing in on their local talent.
“I know Fraser is out at Norwich, but there is no chance of Newcastle selling him. He is too good,” said current United No 1 Harper, speaking to the Shields Gazette.
“I cannot understand how he is not in the Under-21 squad. I know their set-up, and Fraser is as good as there is around.
“He is a local lad from Stocksfield, a big lad at 6ft 6in who stayed on at school and so came late into full-time football, but the progress he has made in the last three years is phenomenal.
“I know Paul Barron, our goalkeeper coach, rates him highly and so does Norwich boss Paul Lambert. Fraser still trains with me every Monday and Tuesday when Norwich don’t have a midweek game, so we keep an eye on him and keep in touch.”
But despite Forster’s undoubted potential – Lambert has already predicted he could be “world class” – Harper isn’t about to give him or fellow youngster Tim Krul an easy ride to the keeping slot at St James’ Park.
Harper had to bide his time for many years behind Shay Given in the pecking order, and despite celebrating his 35th birthday last week, he refuses to hand over the jersey without a fight.
“I have two excellent young goalkeepers pushing me all the way. They put pressure on me every day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There is not much between them. They are both going to be top class. Mind you, I have told both of them it has taken me a long time to be undisputed No1 here, so I do not intend to give it up easily.
“I will help them all I can, but I will not hand over my jersey.”